Science-inspired art by Perse pupil selected for German exhibition

Eye-catching work by Kate Lawrence-Jones (Year 10) is set to go on display at a special scientific art exhibition in Germany.

Kate created a 3D ceramic piece based on the haemagglutinin protein during Year 9 as part of an ongoing Protein Data Bank in Europe (PDBe) programme in which the Perse art and biology departments have been involved for several years.

Pupils’ works inspired by 3D structures of molecules from the PDBe archive often feature in annual exhibitions in Cambridge.

However, Kate’s super sculpture has been selected to be shown as part of the permanent World of Molecular Biology exhibition at the Heidelberg headquarters of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) later this year.

It came after teacher Mandy Wilkins, who leads the art aspect of the Perse PDBe project, was approached to submit a pupil piece for possible inclusion.

The haemagglutinin protein on which Kate’s creation is based is found on the surface of flu viruses and is integral to its infectivity.

She explained: “I based my piece on the influenza virus because of its dynamic form. I started by creating two semi-sphere pinch pots and then used the score-and-slip technique to seal the two halves together.

“After that, I made spikes, which had to harden before being attached using score and slip. These dried to hold their shape and balance.

“Once I was satisfied, it had its first firing and I then applied three coats of blue rutile glaze. The thickness and firing temperature created a fluid natural quality to my 3D piece.

“The colour of the glaze was chosen because a green-blue colour is often used in CAD (computer-aided design) representations of the virus, as well as a mottled surface.”


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